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The Kremlin

Could Putin be assassinated?

The death of Julius Caesar in the Roman Senate. Painting by Vincenzo Camuccini. Leemage/UIG/Getty

Vladimir Putin is guarded by “one of the world’s strongest security details”, says Nigel Jones in The Spectator. So, could an assassin get to him? “Desperate times spawn desperate remedies,” and there must be many in the Kremlin who see that their own futures “are directly imperilled by Putin’s increasingly dangerous actions”. History is full of successful assassinations carried out by close confidantes of dictatorial rulers. Julius Caesar was murdered by his senators, and many other Roman emperors, including Caligula, were bumped off by their Praetorian guards. More recently, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia was killed in 1975 by his nephew, and India’s prime minister Indira Gandhi was gunned down in 1984 by her bodyguards.

In the USSR, after a “sick and ageing” Joseph Stalin began threatening his cronies in the Politburo, there is “considerable evidence” his secret police chief Lavrentiy Beria poisoned the boss to end his tyranny. As the kleptocrats and former KGB men in Putin’s entourage run out of options, and the rage of the Russian people rises, our best hope may rest with “bad men” acting to bring down the “possibly deranged dictator” who is leading Russia into the abyss. Putin once told a journalist he learned a “valuable lesson about power” in his youth when he cornered a rat in the apartment block where he grew up. Instead of submitting, the rat leapt at his face and attacked him. “It is time for the rats in the Kremlin to learn the same lesson.”